Bert was a friend and colleague of boxing writers, commentators, analysts and fans at HBO and around the world. We asked some of them to share their thoughts, memories and recollections of the one-of-a-kind historian and writer. Their responses are reproduced below:
Jim Lampley, HBO commentator:
I have called fights on TV for 26 years, and though I have from the beginning been an avid fan and lover of boxing, my credentials as a historian are pretty badly frayed for any material prior to the mid-50s-the moment my mother sat me down to watch Sugar Ray Robinson vs. Bobo Olsen II and I began to learn something about a sport she particularly liked. Over the years I often checked with Bert for his interpretive knowledge of boxing lore, getting clarifications on questions I might also ask from time to time of Larry Merchant and Harold Lederman. As any ring scribe knows, Bert was unfailingly generous, helpful, and enthusiastic about my enthusiasm.
Most of all Bert was fun. He seemed to have the world pretty much the way he wanted it for a long time, the flourish never vanished from the fedora and the cigar and the brass buttons and madras pants, no socks. He was both an up-to-date thinker and a throwback to another colorful era, and there was only one of him. Only one. I suspect I will think of him at some point in every big fight weekend for quite a while now, and nothing could be more appropriate. For all of us who knew him, he'll be there.
Harold Lederman, HBO's unofficial ringside judge:
I spent a lot of time with Bert. I guess I'm a good listener, because Bert liked to tell his jokes to someone like me who would understand their meaning and laugh at them. We'd sit around telling boxing stories at big fights he'd attend, and invariably Bert would come up with a one liner that would leave me hysterical.